Growing up in the golden age of MySpace (oof I'm aging myself here), I'm no stranger to the selfie. Bad angles, dirty mirrors, emo bangs, the lot. It was a lo-fi vibe that we all got used to seeing for years. And the Instagram era entered and everyone seemed to up their selfie game. It turned into the instagram boyfriend era, epic shots of exotic locations in teeny tiny bikinis or Forever21 fashion shoots.
And tbh, I wasn't really interested in either route. I was lucky to be around some AMAZING artists in college, girls who shopped at thrift stores and looked cooler than any runway model, people who shot on film over digital, threw themed potlucks and were making art of all varieties.
I'm not gonna lie...I LOVED being the subject of my friends art. I wanted gorgeous, artistic, professional quality photos of myself. I wasn't always going to be 20 and I was happy to keep memories of that
time in my life, where summers were sacred and possibilities were endless.
My first foray into self portraiture came during the Covid times, when the world was locked down and being with other humans was terrifying. I'd been laid off from my shitty, boring corporate job, and was "all in" on my then life coaching business.
WTF was I going to do? So much of having an online business was reliant upon having stuff to post. So I got the bright idea to create the Self Portrait Guide - where I would teach all of my fellow online entrepreneurs to back away from the lack lustre selfies and move forward into fully fledged self portraiture.
But honestly, for a few years there, my self portraiture was all about teaching newbies how to take simple phone pictures of themselves. Showing the variety of poses, the easy ways to uplevel without needing expert skills or equipment.
I LOVED empowering people to take their image into their own hands. It gave me an excuse to take some photos of myself and have new, fresh images to post consistently.
And I felt unsatisfied. I knew I could do better. But I had a really hard time getting started. I can see my age in my face. I am not where I want to be in my fitness goals. I'm having an existential crisis about having tattoos. I'm dealing with Chronic Fatigue flare ups. I feel guilty when I'm not hustling for my business and just taking time to do something for me, something that won't have a "pay off".
Finally, at the end of August 2023, an idea clicked. And I'll actually credit my husband, who was writing one song a day for a month. I blatantly stole the idea from him, and decided that September would be the PERFECT time to uplevel my self portraiture into the kinds of imagery I create for my clients. Cue the 30 days of Self Portraits Project. The challenge was to take ONE image each day for an entire month. If I got more, cool. But I wasn't going to skip days. I wasn't going to get carried away into a 4 hour marathon. I was going to try things that I knew would be easy enough to execute at home, but hard enough it would build the portfolio and force me to hone in on specific techniques. And here's what I learned…
🖤 setting a doable but stretchy goal allows for growth without combustion.
🖤 giving yourself some structure is EVERYTHING. I chose to “theme" my weeks so I wasn't trying to come up with something brand new on the spot, taking the mental load away.
🖤 the hardest part of building a habit is the start - once you're in the groove, you miss it when it's gone.
🖤 make it about the process, not the outcome. I didn't LOVE some of the photos I took - but that wasn't the point. The point was to DO.
🖤 starting on the first of the month and ending on the last day is deliciously satisfying, though not strictly necessary. I honestly didn't love the results I got every day. Some days were extremely frustrating. Sometimes I was exhausted. But this 30 day challenge yielded some amazing results AND proved to me how much I can accomolish and grow when I focus on one small thing at a time.
I'll dive deeper into this subject, what each week held, and some behind the scenes techniques in case you're interested. And you can check out the FULL results of each day and the whole project, too.
If you're feeling that pent-up frustration of knowing there's something MORE inside of you, consider giving yourself a challenge. Maybe it's not a full 30 days. Maybe it's once a week, or for 10 days, or a single project.
Whatever it is you're wanting to do, set yourself a reasonable but stretchy goal, and make your success contingent upon the PROCESS and the showing up, not the result.